There are a few suggestions and proposals for regional rail in Alberta that would involve passenger rail networks connecting towns and cities such as Grand Prairie, Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Lake Louise and more.
Regional Rail Example from Ontario
The Go Transit system in Southern Ontario is an example of a regional rail project. This project was entirely funded by the Ontario government from 1967 to 1997. They subsidized revenue losses and paid for all capital costs.
Single deck push and pull coaches were originally built as a three-year experiment in 1997. Train services ran from Oakville to Pickering during the daytimes and to Hamilton during rush hour, with tracks following Lake Ontario’s shoreline. This project was considered a success, having carried 2.5 million riders in its first year. A Go Bus service was added in 1970 as an extension of the Lakeshore Trainline. It is now intertwined with the rail line, and services communities that the rail does not reach.
From the News: Ideas in Alberta
Alberta Regional Rail Inc Proposal
It should be noted that up until 1971, passengers were able to travel across Southern Alberta by train. Regional Rail Inc wants to make this a reality again, and is proposing a passenger line between Calgary and Edmonton that would eventually expand across the province. This project would be similar to the previously mentioned GO train in Toronto and the West Coast Express, which have both been very successful.
A similar project is currently under works in the US, with the Big Sky National Rail Authority looking to reinstate a line connecting Southern Montana to Seattle and Chicago. Big Sky National Rail Authority has had informal talks with Alberta Regional Rail Inc about their project, and has found some success. Alberta Regional Rail Inc. argues that rail lines would promote local businesses across Alberta.
Alberta Regional Rail’s Proposal To Use Pre-existing Tracks in Carstairs
Alberta Regional Rail hopes to use existing rail right-of-ways and upgrade existing track for its proposed passenger rail system across the highway 2 corridor. This line would have stations in Carstairs, Didsbury and Olds.
An economic analysis will be done as part of the planning process for this project. Local municipalities will not be expected to pay interest, on this project and it is believed that operating costs will be covered if the train runs at a frequency of 1 hour per pickup. Regional Rail Alberta would appreciate financing from local municipalities, but will not require it of them. The priority is instead to look for private financing.
Calgary – Banff Rail Link Proposal
The owners of the Mount Norquay Ski Facility submitted a proposal to the Albertan government in hopes that this project could be sponsored publicly and privately.
This project would be 150 kilometres long, and ig would connect the Banff train station to the Calgary International Airport. Other stops would include downtown Calgary, Cochrane, Morley and Canmore. Every 15 minutes, the train would run from the Calgary airport to downtown, and every 2 hours it would run from downtown Calgary to Banff. Canmore’s mayor believes this project would be used by both commuters and tourists alike.
Regional Rail Advocacy Groups
Alberta Regional Rail
Regional Rail Alberta is an organization that advocates for passenger rail development between Calgary and Edmonton and the surrounding areas. Their goal is to link this rail development with local transit and airports.
They emphasize how beautiful the scenery is between Calgary and Edmonton, and that this route would include attractions such as Maskwa Park in Maskwacis, The Ellis Bird Farm in Lacombe, Botanical Gardens in Olds, The National Music Center in Calgary and more.
Rail For Alberta
Rail for Alberta is committed to sustainable and efficient passenger rail in Alberta. To achieve this they engage with Albertan communities, businesses and governments. They want to see Calgary, Edmonton and surrounding areas become connected by rail, and argue it’s a safe, sustainable and attainable way to travel.
Transport Action Canada
Transport Action Canada advocates for sustainable transportation. They are an education and advocacy-focused non-profit. They advocate for urban transit and passenger train services.
They support the 2020 Government of Alberta proposal for a Calgary-Banff rail service. This 130 km route would connect Calgary, Cochrane, Morley and Banff. They are also in favour of the new Calgary Green Line, which will connect Southeast Calgary to 16 Ave North.
Study of High-Speed Rail Impacts on Rural Alberta
This report, created by CPCS Transcom Limited, analyses the potential impacts of the Calgary-Edmonton HSR rail proposal on nearby rural areas. It delves into everything, including road user impacts, commercial and economic impacts, social and environmental impacts, cost estimates and more.
Government of Alberta High-Speed Rail Resources
Contains links to various economic analyses of the Edmonton-Calgary high-speed rail proposal.